Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's all about the story?

CNN just had a piece (Web-only I think) about sex on TV. It focused on one HBO show, one Showtime and in passing a network series and had very little that made this seem like anything unusual so it was clearly a non-story. But that's not the story that was the real focus. CNN had a TV Guide and a Newsweek critic on different sides of whether the sex scenes were important to the shows' stories; since they were only discussing generalities there's no way to reach a conclusion and a cynic (not me, I'm a stoic) would suspect that's exactly what CNN wanted. The TV Guide critic took the usual line that the sex scenes are acceptable if they're needed for the story though shortly afterwards she gave the game away by saying she wouldn't want her mother or her daughter to walk in and see such scenes. Of course they would have no idea whether this was part of the story or not so in other words as far as she's concerned it's irrelevant whether such scenes are important to the story.

But why do the sex scenes have to be necessary for the story? Do we care so much about "the story" that nothing else matters? Films like Lone Star and Oldboy definitely need fairly explicit sex scenes because major elements of the story require that viewers have absolutely no doubt that this took place. And apart from that, so what? Violence is also frequently subjected to the story-necessity idea but few people would argue that the violence in CSI and its kin are required by the story; well the violence yes because you can't have a murder mystery without a murder but the display not really. But I think you see where I'm going with this. Car chases in a cop show aren't really needed for the story. Soap operas can do without all the conversation. Musicals aren't advanced one bit by the songs. Sports film, why go through The Big Game but just tell us who won? In fact we should just listen to radio where some announcer can tell us the story in a few minutes and we don't have to be distracted by actors or dialogue or movement or locations. We can get the real story. Because apparently nothing else matters.